The personal is political. And vice versa.

The hidden picture puzzle: take a look.

Explore the relation between health and development at
Explore the relation between health and development at

Working in the medical, healing, care and health profession poses particular challenges. In virtually no other sector are daily professional activities, personal experiences and political structures so directly and critically linked. It’s a matter of sickness and health, often of life or death.

In their role as doctors, pharmacists, medical service providers or employees in the pharmaceuticals or medical devices industry, individuals have all but lost the ability to comprehend the complexity of the health sector. Yet they all know that being human is a direct part of their work with patients.

Whether consciously or unconsciously, they are all aware that the conditions for sickness and health are linked to political justice: the poor die younger. Consciously or unconsciously, they are all aware that the causes of sickness and health are global: economic interests, climate change, wars and political oppression – they all play a role.

People tend to simplify complex problems, breaking them down into manageable parts that can be considered separately. This is what happens in the medical sector and in development cooperation. Talking about development cooperation and fund-raising projects not only simplifies but also personalises and emotionalises complex problems: what remains is often nothing less than a poverty-pornographic portrayal of suffering. Displaying the image of a sick, starving African child, followed by an emotional appeal to make a charitable contribution.

Poverty pornography is a sign of ethical, intellectual and spiritual vacuity.

Charitable contributions can be counterproductive as they hamper the equitable development of health-care systems. Individual assistance is only ethically advisable in emergency situations. Ongoing individual aid can prevent development.

The hidden picture puzzle reveals the complex conditions of health, sickness and development in a globalised world. The picture invites the observer to take a closer look at the work of plan:g – Partnership for Global Health. To see – to judge – to act: this is the three-step approach to analysis implemented by the Catholic Church. The hidden picture puzzle invites you to see.

You can order the print poster here.